Even One "Cheat" Day Could Hurt Your Weight Loss Efforts

By , SparkPeople Blogger
When you're trying to change your eating habits and become healthier, it's important not to totally deny yourself the foods you love. You probably can't continue eating pizza 5 nights a week, but you can still enjoy a slice now and then. Just because you have a healthy diet doesn't mean that you never indulge in a bowl of ice cream or slice of pie. I feel like I have a pretty good diet, but I also leave room for the occasional piece of chocolate (okay, maybe more than occasional.)

Some people like to incorporate the foods they enjoy into their daily menus. But others like to have "cheat" days, where they stick to a plan during the week, and then eat whatever they'd like on the weekends (for example). But a study in the International Journal of Obesity showed that people who ate a consistent number of calories all week long were 50% more likely to maintain their weight than those who stuck to a stricter plan Monday through Friday.

One reason I'm not a fan of "cheat" days is because many people just end up looking forward to those few days a week when they can enjoy the foods they love, instead of learning how to incorporate those foods into their everyday life. I think it's fine to plan for those special occasions like your father's birthday party or a girls night out when you're going to eat a little more than usual. But this research shows that might not be a good strategy on a regular basis.

Calorie cycling is another option to use instead of "cheat" days, whether you're trying to lose weight or maintain your current weight. Eating varying amounts of calories during the week (that still add up to what you need over the week as a whole) keeps your body from getting used to a specific routine. This can help with weight loss, but also helps you plan for those days when you know you're going to eat a little more, and those days when you know you don't need quite as much.

What do you think about "cheat" days? Do they work for you? Do you use other techniques like calorie cycling or budgeting for extra treats on a regular basis?

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